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Monday,17-May-2021

International

Brought out the sweep shot after 13-14 years: Ravichandran Ashwin

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Ravichandran-Ashwin

India off-spinner R Ashwin, who scored his fifth Test century after a five-wicket haul to help India take the stranglehold of the second Test, said he brought out his sweep shot for the first time after well over a decade.

“After the last Test, we were thinking on how to counter [Jack] Leach and start bringing sweep to the game. The last time I was sweeping was probably when I was 19 years old; hit a couple of sweep shots, got dropped from the side, and maybe never played a sweep for the last 11, maybe 13-14 years. I’ve been practicing that shot for the last week to 10 days. Very, very thankful that the plan has really paid off,” Ashwin, who scored 106 to help India make 286 in the second innings and set a target of 482 runs for England, said after the third day’s play.

Ashwin credited India’s batting coach Vikram Rathour, a former India opener, for improvement in his batting.

“We have been practicing along with Vikram Rathour. Rathour has been very, very helpful trying to explore new options. He is someone who is facilitating me to go out there and be able to express myself, explore various options. I would love to credit him for how my batting has gone through the last four-five Test matches. He has kept me in the loop, said I have been batting very well. He asked me not to overthink but just look at the gameplan,” he disclosed.

Ashwin added that the big target has helped them be able to attack the batsmen with fielders around the bat.

“The wicket is such that you have to get runs square of the wicket. Sort of had a very, very good day. We posted a very good score. Now we can really attack with men around the bat,” said Ashwin.

“I think in the past when I have made my hundreds in India, Ishi [Ishant Sharma] has been a sort cog in the wheel. He has been with me twice when I made my hundred. He sort of understands how I go about it. Ishi was defending well. So, I thought I need to take calculated risks as long as he was there. But once Siraj came, I knew I had to get it done in a few overs. But I was super thrilled how he batted and hit the ball out of the ground,” he said smilingly.

On Siraj’s celebration after his hundred, Ashwin said: “Quite a funny thing [to see him] excited when I got to my hundred. That says a thing or two how the dressing room has been. Lived a dream over the past three-four months.”

Earlier, on Sunday, Ashwin became the first player in the 143-year history of Test cricket to take 200 wickets against left-handed batsmen. Fast bowler Stuart Broad was the 200th left-hander he dismissed.

International

Pollard was stunned by 1st contract offered by MI: Dwayne Bravo

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Kieron-Pollard

Dwayne Bravo revealed the role he played in Mumbai Indians (MI) signing Kieron Pollard in 2010. Bravo played for MI between 2008 and 2010 and the team was searching for a replacement after the Trinidadian left for Chennai Super Kings.

“When Mumbai Indians needed a replacement for me, I gave them Kieron Pollard’s name. When they tried contacting him, he was playing for a club, so I recommended Dwayne Smith and he became my replacement,” Bravo told Cricbuzz.

“The following year, when it was the Champions League, I called Rahul (Sanghvi) and said, ‘Pollard, he’s here. Come and sign him now before the tournament starts.’ Rahul and Robin Singh left Mumbai and came to Hyderabad, I’ll never forget they came with a contract which at that time was 200,000 USD. I called Pollard, who came downstairs and met them both in the lobby. He saw the contract. Now for someone coming from Trinidad, as a 19-year-old, that was wow. He said, ‘Dwayne are you serious?” said Bravo.

Pollard has turned out to be one of the most important signings in MI’s history, playing an integral role in the team’s five Indian Premier League (IPL) victories. He has scored 3,191 runs for MI at a strike rate of 150.87 and taken 63 wickets as well.

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India retain top spot in ICC Test rankings

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Indian-team

India have retained the top spot in the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) annual update of the Test rankings. India are on 121 rating points while second-placed New Zealand are on 120.

England overtook Australia to take third place with 109 rating points. Australia currently have 108. The West Indies, who beat Bangladesh 2-0 and drew 0-0 with Sri Lanka in series played this year, have moved from eighth to sixth with 84 points, their best position since 2013.

The ICC said that the latest update eliminates the results of 2017/18. It rates all matches played since May 2020 at 100 per cent and those of the previous two years at 50 per cent

“India’s 2-1 win over Australia and 3-1 win over England over the past year and New Zealand’s 2-0 series wins over the West Indies and Pakistan have helped them keep ahead of the pack,” said the ICC.

Pakistan have gained three points but remain in fifth position.

South Africa are in seventh position, equaling their lowest in Test ranking history, while Sri Lanka are next on the list. Bangladesh have lost five points but remain in ninth position while Zimbabwe have gained eight points but are still nine points behind Bangladesh.

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Warner took news of being axed as SRH captain with class: Brad Haddin

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SunRisers-Hyderabad

Batsman David Warner took the news of him being axed as SunRisers Hyderabad (SRH) captain in the 2021 Indian Premier League (IPL) “with class”, said the team’s assistant coach Brad Haddin.

“He took it with class. It was a bit of a shock to everyone when the management decided to go in a different direction to try and spark something in the team. We weren’t playing at the standard we needed to but with Davey, the way he handled it, it was all class. He just got back on with the job,” Haddin said on Fox Cricket.

New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson replaced Warner as captain. SRH ended up playing only one match under Williamson as the season got postponed after that due to the Covid-19 pandemic and Warner was dropped in that game.

Haddin, the former Australia wicketkeeper who was also Warner’s team mate in the Australian team, said that the latter just got on with his job and had no qualms in bringing out drinks for the players.

“I dare say he would come back in the contention in the next few games. He’s one of the best in the world in that form of the game. You had to look at the way he reacted when he came on to the bench. He was around everyone; he was running the drinks out. He was really focussed on the meetings so he handled it with a lot of class in a difficult situation,” Haddin said.

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